The Swedish government announced that the tax on plastic bags would be abolished in November 2024, stating that the EU's plastic consumption cutting target had already been achieved. The country introduced the tax of SEK 3 (€0.25) on plastic bags in 2020, although some stores raised the price to as much as SEK 7 (€0.59). When imposed, it meant PE shopping bags would get twice as expensive.
At the beginning, Swedish businesses strongly opposed this tax, saying that it lacked environmental benefits and was another financial burden on households and businesses.
‘We believe that Swedes use polyethylene bags sensibly in their everyday lives and that it does not make sense for them to be too expensive,’ Minister of Climate and Environment Romina Pourmokhtari remarked. In a press release from the Ministry of Finance, the government justifies the abolition of the tax by the fact that consumption in Sweden is significantly lower than the EU's target consumption of a maximum of 40 thin plastic bags per person per year. In 2019, a year before the tax was introduced, Swedes bought 74 plastic bags per person per year, a number that fell to 17 in 2022, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The European flexible tube market was stable in H1 2023, according to a press release of the European Tube Manufacturers Association (ETMA). The association reports a rise of almost 2% in deliveries to a total of around 6.2 billion units amid supplies to the pharmaceutical market that increased by a good 5%. Demand from the cosmetics and dental care markets also developed positively with growth of about 2%. Deliveries to the food sector stagnated, while demand for tubes for household and technical products declined significantly by around 20%. ‘Overall, we are very satisfied with the result in the first half of the year as the volume-dominant sales markets in particular developed positively,’ ETMA President Mark Aegler emphasises.
The ETMA reports that customers are insisting on the use of recycled materials in tubes as part of their sustainability concepts. However, there are bottlenecks in the availability of high-quality post-consumer recycling materials. ‘For plastic tubes, the quantities required will certainly not be achievable through mechanical recycling of used plastic packaging alone. Chemical recycling can be an additional option for closing the gap, especially for complex composite structures. Appropriate political guidelines are needed here at the European level so that the necessary investments in recycling capacities can take place,’ Mr Aegler adds.
As for the outlook for the rest of 2023, Mr Aegler sums up, ‘The political and economic environment remains difficult. Despite a still high order backlog, some tube manufacturers are now recording a slight decline in incoming orders. Although there is currently no reason to complain, forecasts for the market development in H2 2023 are subject to considerable uncertainty’.
Note: there are three common types of tubes in the market: aluminium, plastic or laminate. Plastic tubes can be produced from polyethylene and polypropylene. The most important market for plastic tubes is the cosmetics industry. They are also used in smaller quantities for pharmaceutical, household, food and oral care products.
LyondellBasell Industries has reported Q2 2023 net income of $715 million, or $2.18 per diluted share. During the quarter, the company recognized identified items of $86 million, net of tax. These items, which impacted the second quarter earnings by $0.26 per share, were related to costs incurred from plans to exit the refining business. Q2 2023 EBITDA was $1.4 billion, or $1.5 billion excluding identified items.
Global olefins and polyolefins margins improved modestly during the second quarter, driven by lower feedstock costs in both the United States and Europe. New capacity from LyondellBasell's propylene oxide and oxyfuels plant in Texas was largely offset by the planned maintenance of the company's existing assets. Oxyfuels margins remained strong, supported by low butane costs and robust demand for fuels. Refining margins declined from the Q1 2023 highs but remained above long-term averages.
In Q3 2023, the company expects typical benefits from the summer seasonality to be more than offset by soft demand due to the ongoing economic uncertainty. Stagnant demand, volatile feedstock costs and new capacity in North America and China are challenging petrochemical margins. Summer demand for transportation fuels continues to support attractive oxyfuels and refining margins. During the third quarter, LyondellBasell foresees the average operating rate of 85% for North American olefins and polyolefins (O&P) assets and that of 75% for European O&P as well as Intermediates & Derivatives assets in line with global market demand. The company believes the current market conditions will persist amidst the challenging economic conditions and a slower–than-expected recovery in China.